Barça at the World Cup, Part 7: Lineker leads the way
The English striker joined FC Barcelona after coming home from Mexico 1986 as the top goalscorer, hitting the net six times against Poland, Paraguay and Argentina
Gary Lineker (Leicester, 1960)
Gary Lineker joined FC Barcelona just after the World Cup in Mexico, where he finished as top scorer with six goals. But the Catalans had been eyeing him before, as he scored at least twenty goals for each of the last four seasons both for Leicester City and then for Everton to earn a reputation as one of the world’s top goal-getters.
At the World Cup, he scored three as England beat Poland in the groups and then contributed a further two goals to the 3-0 defeat of Paraguay to earn a showdown with Argentina in the quarter finals.
With the Falklands War fresh in the memory, it was a poignant fixture, but would end up being remembered for two of the most famous goals in football history – both scored by former Barça man Diego Maradona.
Maradona refused credit for the first, saying it had actually been scored by the ‘hand-of-god’, while the second still regularly comes top of ‘best goal ever’ polls.
Lineker pulled one back for the English but it wouldn’t be enough. A few days later, Barça president Josep Lluís Nuñez announced that he had secured an agreement to bring the player to Catalonia.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
Gary Lineker scored 42 goals in 103 appearances over three seasons at Barça, making him the highest scoring Englishman in Liga history.
In 1989 returned to England to play for Tottenham Hotspur and finally saw out his playing days in Japan – with FIFA honouring him for never getting booked once in his entire professional career.
He continues to be a familiar face on British TV screens as one of the country’s best loved sports presenters.